The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


The Hangover Part III

The Hangover was a hilarious comedy with an original premise. The Hangover Part II told the exact same story without the funny parts. The Hangover Part III tells a different, far less interesting story, also without the funny parts. Here's a classic example of how success can be fatal. What I – and so many other people – loved about the first Hangover was that it was a fairly simple story about a bunch of dudes trying to figure out what happened after waking up from a night of debauchery. When the movie ended, so did the story. But, it was a box office smash, so two more sequels were commissioned, despite the fact that there was nowhere left for the premise to go. Parts II and III are utterly unnecessary and, not surprisingly, of diminishing quality. The Hangover has now officially replaced The Matrix as the cinematic trilogy with the biggest awesome-to-sucky decline.

Anyone who ever woke up wondering what the hell they did the night before could relate to The Hangover. That was part of its appeal. No one will be able to relate to this movie. Alan (Zach Galifianakis) is in a personal tailspin that gets worse when his father unexpectedly dies. Pals Stu (Ed Helms), Phil (Bradley Cooper), and Doug (Justin Bartha) drive him to a rehab to get treatment. En route, their car is run off the road by a gangster named Marshall (John Goodman). He explains that Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong, continuing his streak of being obnoxiously unfunny in this part) stole $21 million in gold from him, then promptly disappeared. Marshall thinks the Wolf Pack can track him down, so he takes Doug hostage and orders the others to find and deliver Chow. The rest of the movie details their pursuit of a man who doesn't want to be caught.

There are so many things The Hangover Part III fails at that it's almost difficult to keep score. Perhaps the biggest failure is that it exists at all. What I mean is that this is not a premise designed for sequels. The unexpected success of the original forced co-writer/director Todd Phillips to come up with reasons to keep following these characters for two more films. What he devises this time is beyond contrived; in fact, it's ridiculous. Alan buying a giraffe? Searching for stolen gold? Dangling from the top of a Las Vegas casino? The plot strains hard for things to do, and the longer it goes on, the further it gets from what was so appealing in the first place.

Another big failure is that the movie isn't really a comedy. It's an action picture – and not a very good one. The Hangover Part III rarely tries to be funny. Galifianakis gets off a few kooky lines, but by and large, the emphasis is on telling this pseudo-crime story that contains a lot of predictable twists. The only really funny scene comes partway through the end credits, when most of the audience has left the theater. In fairness, Phillips didn't tell the exact same story again. Unfortunately, he didn't come up with anything better, either.

In the third act, the movie does something a Hangover movie should never do: it introduces sentimentality. Not character development, not emotion. Artificial sentimentality. Yes, certain characters have to learn something. They have to experience epiphanies. It's not enough for them to learn not to get wasted. No, they must endure Important Life Lessons. During the final 15 minutes, The Hangover Part III turns into the world's worst After-School Special.

The only marginally enjoyable thing is the camaraderie of Cooper, Helms, and Galifianakis. After multiple films together, their friendship feels authentic. No doubt everyone had a great time making this sequel. It must have been fun to “get the gang back together,” so to speak. Sadly, though, that fun hasn't exactly come off the screen and into the audience. I've liked some of Todd Phillips' movies. I loved the first Hangover. It would have been great if he could have found funny, logical places for the two sequels to go. Instead, he told a brilliant joke the first time, told it again with a different setup the second time, and told no joke at all the third time. The Hangover Part III is supposed to be the end of the franchise. Hopefully, that's true, because at this point, it has become as unpleasant as a real hangover.

( 1/2 out of four)

The Hangover Part III is rated R for pervasive language including sexual references, some violence and drug content, and brief graphic nudity. The running time is 1 hour and 40 minutes.

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